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Methods to grow your database of ecommerce customers

Sooner or later every ecommerce retailer, no matter the size, will concentrate their efforts on one prerequisite, ideas to grow your customer database. Anyone running an online store should form a long-term strategy for growth and it’s important to recognise the difference between strategy and tactics. You should define objectives, strategy, and tactics in that order—for example, say you run a store for pets:

  • Objective: Reach 1000 pet owners in the database
  • Strategy: Doggy Got Style!
  • Tactics: Summer Doggy Swimsuit Sale, Stylish Dogs of Instagram series of blog posts, World’s Most Stylish Dogs weekly newsletter, nominate-your-dog Stylish Dog Award (with prize), Dress-Your-Dog mobile app.

Tactics are actions you take to execute a strategy. But what are some common tactics you can use as part of a “big picture” strategy? Here are multiple tactics for getting more customers for your ecommerce store.

1. Hold a sale‍ for ecommerce customers

Discounting is not a long-term strategy but it can be highly effective in driving new customers to your store. Figure out your customer acquisition cost and from that, how much of a discount (on a limited amount of quantity/product) you can afford to offer to acquire new customers—then announce it to the world via social media and your blog! Just be careful of attracting deal-hunters, since these customers may not have a high Customer Lifetime Value (be of long-term value to your business).

2. Run a competition for ecommerce customers

Competitions can be a fun way to spread the word about your store but remember to keep the competition purposeful to your brand. Don’t run a “cute pets” competition if you’re selling women’s lingerie! If it’s not relevant to your target audience, you’re not going to get a good outreach even if you’re giving out a lot of high-value prizes from the competition. You can extract maximum exposure from competitions by building a voting mechanic—to win or be shortlisted, participants have to get their friends to vote.

3. Give free samples‍ to ecommerce customers

The more you can do to lower the barrier for a customer to experience your products, the better. This might not make economic sense depending on your product, but it’s worth trying if the cost to offer a free sample is low. It’s also a great way to show your appreciation for anyone who buys from your ecommerce brand, and also a good way to cross-sell if you do have other products available. 

4. Partner up

Partnering with a non-competitive but audience-complementary partner can be a highly effective way of acquiring new customers. This can be something as simple as a traffic exchange—partnering with a highly trafficked site in your customer’s domain, putting up a banner to drive traffic to your shop, and paying the partner either a cut of the cart revenue or a flat fee for every customer acquired via the partner banner. Or it could also be collaborating on business opportunities through a brand partnership. Let’s say your brand sells pet food and the partner sells dog accessories, it could be a limited edition marketing campaign to gain greater awareness and outreach to the audience from both brands.

5. Write targeted blog content

It’s no quick fix, but writing authoritative, interesting content in your online shop’s contextual domain will pay huge dividends over the long term. Targeted content will help boost your site’s SEO bringing in new customers organically, and will also encourage your existing visitors to share your content more. Every online shop should have blog content as part of its marketing strategy!

6. Offer a new product/service

It sounds obvious, but a super effective way to capture a whole new customer segment is to offer a whole new product or service! This doesn’t even need to be complicated, it could simply be a repositioning, repackaging, or even repricing of an existing product.

7. Advertise‍ for ecommerce customers

It’s one of the most basic forms of driving people to a product or service, but don’t forget about it! Experiment with Google Ads since you can fine-tune your targeting and choose how much you want to spend. Here is a source for the UK’s top Google Ad Word companies, and the top US Ad Word agencies.

8. Be engaging on social media

In the age of social media, effective marketing is not just about getting people to come to you—it’s about participating in the channels that your customers are participating in whether that’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, or any of the other dozens of popular services. Pick the channels that are right for your business and participate authentically—remember that social media is not there to simply drive people to your store, it’s also there to help you create stories about your business that people can share with others. Brands that do well on social media see it as a two-way conversation channel with their avid followers rather than just another outreach platform. The formula’s simple, the more you interact with your potential customers, the more engagement you’ll see. 

9. Incentivise the first purchase

Sweeten the deal for first-time purchasers and you’ll increase the amount of conversion from visitor to customer. Some online stores offer a small discount for first-time purchases, the key is to make it tangible and obvious what the customer will get if they purchase right now. Make sure you have an exit pop-up widget offering these potential customers a promotion they can’t resist!

10. Own a referral program

The best and arguably most valuable method of customer acquisition is when existing customers refer a friend. It relies on the trust between friends and family, rather than requiring the brand to earn that trust from scratch. When this method works well, all the marketing is done by your existing customers meaning you can focus on running your online store instead of spending time bringing people to it. Referrals can happen organically via word-of-mouth marketing (focus on great products, great prices, and excellent customer service—these alone will get you very far) but you can also implement a referral marketing program.

The simplest way to do this if you’re already running an online store is with referral marketing software—this will help to automate the process by which existing customers are encouraged and rewarded to tell their friends about your online store. ReferralCandy is a fully automated, plug-and-play solution for referral marketing and at the time of writing works seamlessly with over 16 different ecommerce platforms including all-in-one ecommerce hosts like Shopify, WooCommerceMagento,  and Opencart.

11. Get started on influencer marketing

Micro-influencers are one of the best kinds of social proof there is out there. There, we’ve said it. 

Brand Ambassadors isn’t about paying a huge exorbitant amount of money to celebrities for endorsement, no that’s not the kind of influencer marketing we’re referring to. Engaging influencers can be through various ways like product seeding—sending a best-seller to an influencer in your product’s niche community and getting them to share their honest thoughts about it. These influencers are essentially talking about your brand and products to people who matter, and that’s the most important thing about this marketing channel.

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